Tag Archives: chocolate

These Cookies are Highly Evolved

When I make cookies for the public, I usually stick to the recipe. But when I make them just to have around the house, I have a hard time leaving the recipe alone. I can’t resist trying to find some way to reduce the amount of refined (and/or total) sugar or incorporate oats and/or nuts. It’s almost compulsory, actually. But I’m usually pleased with the results.

I love the chewy texture ground oats provide, and the rich flavors from nuts. Plus, we have to give credit where credit is due: both ingredients make your cookies healthier. Better-tasting and healthier = win-win.

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Recipes have always evolved as they have been passed through generations and amongst friends, but the internet has intensified and complicated this evolution. The recipe I most recently modified was actually an already-modified recipe. Angela from Oh She Glows has a recipe for vegan oatmeal raisin cookies, which is already a combination of two different recipes. I modified her recipe, then divided the batch in half and modified each further to get two different cookies out of the batch (you follow?). One chocolate, one cherry walnut. It’s like combining the genes of two species and then genetically altering the offspring before they’re even born. But don’t worry, the analogy stops there…no need to protest these cookies; save your activism energy for actual GMOs : )

What you actually might want to protest is that this is a teaser. I am back at College Park, just starting my first semester of graduate school in nutrition, and I left the recipe at home (along with my computer cord…). But it had been so long since my last post, I just had to update. So this teaser stands as a taste of what’s to come, as well as motivation to continue!

Speaking of grad school, I taught my first discussion as a TA today. It went as well as I could have hoped for, and now that I know what to expect for the next two sections I am more excited than nervous about the job (before this afternoon’s discussion I was perhaps equally nervous and excited). Teaching is such an important experience- for confidence, communication and public speaking, and then just the pure delight of witnessing young people learning.

Before I go, just a recommendation: my astoundingly talented friend, Meredith, just started a food blog herself. It will with no doubt be more organized and consistent than mine is.. : ) Go see for yourself!

And so this isn’t a one-picture post, here is a snack; purchased from and consumed at a farm stand when Bonnie and I drove back from visiting Meredith (see above) and Tyler up in Boston. I offer it as a symbol of balance as I begin my education in nutrition and make you wait for cookies…

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Food with Friends

My wonderful friend Mer has been in town on break from graduate school this past week. She and I share many interests, but one of the most prevalent is a love of good food. We only saw each other twice over the past week, but we managed to create something delicious both times.

The first time, she came over and we made muffins. My life has been a search for chocolate things over the past couple of weeks, so we made chocolate muffins.

Whole Wheat Double Chocolate Muffins with a Peanut Butter Swirl to be exact. Well, that link is actually for Whole Wheat Triple Chocolate Banana Bread Muffins, but it’s the recipe we modified for our new and improved version. Well, improved if you don’t consider white chocolate actual chocolate and think that basically everything is improved by peanut butter. (Both those topics of discussion could be categorized under “Interests Mer and I Share”.)

Our modifications include using less banana (because 2 was all I had) and making up the volume
difference with extra yogurt, excluding the white chocolate chips, adding a little milk because the batter was dry (perhaps due to lack of banana? though yogurt is pretty moist…), and swirling peanut butter on the top.

The result looked like this:

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And tasted like good.

The other food item we created involved cooking with many friends. Since it was some-assembly-required, this worked out well.
The idea for this sandwich was Bonnie’s, and though I have made one based on a similar concept before, this one was far superior. The concept is a grilled cheese sandwich, where you dip the bread in beaten egg before “grilling” it (which can only be done in a frying pan here–a toaster oven would be a mess. Well, I guess it might work if you have a pan that goes in the toaster oven… I don’t know, still sounds messy.). Think stuffed French toast, savory style.

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(The two pictures in this post demonstrate the difference between plentiful natural light and a lack of natural light when taking pictures with an iPhone. I’m sure you can guess which is which.)

Our fillings were: sautéed mushrooms, sautéed Swiss chard (grown by Christopher), that Bellavitano black pepper cheese from Whole Foods that is like a cross between cheddar and parmesan and is expensive but so worth it, an herbed cheese that I don’t remember the name of, and a sun-dried tomato puree.

I don’t think I need to tell you that that one also tasted like good.

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Chocolate Chip Apology

Oh dear, I’ve been a slacker blogger.  I feel like that’s the worst kind of blogger; the other unfortunate kinds of bloggers include annoying bloggers and offensive bloggers… but you as a reader don’t have to be affected by them, you can just avoid their site.  A slacker blogger, on the other hand, may cause a reader to return to their site to be disappointed over and over.  How cruel.

Can I make it up to you with cookies?

These cookies are from the magazine Vegetarian Times.  They are titled “The Heart-Healthiest Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World” because they use ground walnuts and a little canola oil instead of butter and eggs (resulting in no cholesterol and minimal saturated fat) and include both oat flour and rolled oats (resulting in lots of fiber, including soluble fiber which helps remove LDL (“bad”) cholesterol from your blood).  Of course, there are plenty of of studies these days about how it’s saturated fat, not the dietary cholesterol you consume, that raises the cholesterol in your blood, or how you need a little saturated fat to keep everything running right… But the only thing I was really thinking about when I made these cookies was that anything bound together by ground up walnuts couldn’t be bad.

They are especially good about half an hour after they come out of the oven, when they are chewy but a little crisp around the edges.  As they aged, they became just chewy, kind of in the way a chewy granola bar is chewy.  In fact, I basically used them as granola bars, taking them to work for quick energy and carrying them on long runs.  At this point, they are improved when dipped in tea.

They are super easy to make.  You can find the recipe here.  The only changes I made were to use 1 cup almonds and 1 cup walnuts (since we didn’t have enough walnuts) and to grind my own oat flour in the food processor.  It’s super easy: you just stick the oats in and turn on the food processor until they become powder.  And for this recipe, you need the food processor anyway to grind the nuts, so you don’t even dirty and extra dish!  I think I actually didn’t grind my oats enough… the cookies would probably have a little less granola bar chew if I had made a finer powder.

Here are the dry ingredients…

Here is the nut “butter”, combined with the melted brown sugar/water…

Everything getting mixed up…

Combine

I like to use pieces of random chocolate bars we have lying around in cookies… these ones contained some dark chocolate with espresso along with the chocolate chips.  I also did some with raisins instead of chocolate.

Mmmmm… fresh.

So yes, speaking of running…. I did my longest run last week!  20 miles.  It went well; my biggest complaint was thirst around mile 17, but conveniently I was approaching a gas station at that point, so I stopped there to drink some water.  Maybe in the future I’ll carry water on long runs, especially if I do them on trails where gas stations are less frequently encountered.  Now, though, I’m in taper land.  Today was just a 12 mile run and it went smoothly.  It was a sunny, warm Fall morning.  Time out in this weather is an added bonus to running; I’m really glad I chose this season to train!

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Green & Black

Lately I’ve been looking for a little more chocolate in my life, but our house has been sadly devoid of it.  Luckily, I have the power to change that.

Hold on… that doesn’t look like chocolate.

Well, just you wait.

I cobbled this recipe together when I worked as an Americorps member for the nutrition program at the Cornell Cooperative Extension, Tioga County in Owego, NY.  There were certain restrictions on the recipes we could recommend to people under Eat Smart New York (the CCE nutrition program).  I don’t remember them all, but I know it couldn’t have more than 35% of calories coming from fat or 10 grams of added sugar per serving.  We wanted a recipe using zucchini, and in my search for zucchini bread recipes, I came upon this one.  To healthify/modify it to meet the recipe requirements, I made a few tweaks involving applesauce, reduced sugar, and whole wheat flour.  The result was fabulous: deep, chocolatey, and cake-like.

We’ve had a couple zucchini lying around, and I decided to make them into chocolate.  It’s like a water-into-wine situation for the chocolate religion 🙂

I made one more modification for this version.  I love oats, and I tend to think they improve most things.  So, for half of the cup of whole wheat flour called for in the recipe, I substituted half a cup of oat flour.  Actually, to be more specific, I used half a cup of regular, ol’fashioned oats, ground into flour with a few quick spins of the food processor.  Simple.

The result was lovely.  Now this bread is even more like cake: moist, dark chocolate cake.  Mmmmmm.

It’s healthy enough to be a snack (or breakfast if you’re feeling fancy) but decadent enough to be dessert.  As seen here, a la mode.

No lack of chocolate in this house now!

Chocolate Zucchini Bread

Ingredients

  • 1.5 cups Shredded Zucchini (this was 1.5 big-ish ones)
  • 1/2 cup Whole Wheat Flour
  • 1/2 cup Oat Flour (or 0.5 cup oats, ground until powdery)
  • 1/2 cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1 tsp Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Salt
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup Unsweetened Applesauce
  • 1/4 cup Canola Oil (or oil of your choosing)
  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/2 cup Brown Sugar, Packed
  • 1 Egg
  • 3 tbsp Milk (of your choosing)
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 cup Chopped Walnuts (optional)
  • However many chocolate chips suit your fancy

How-To

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Lightly grease a loaf pan (or a muffin tin).
  • In a large mixing bowl, beat the egg, then add the oil, applesauce, sugars, milk, and vanilla, and beat until well blended.  Fold in zucchini.

Wet Ingredient World

  • In a medium mixing bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and cinnamon.

I was in a hurry and cheated a little. I just placed the dry ingredients on top of the wet, mixed them together a little on the surface, then...

  • Add dry ingredients to the wet mixture and stir until just combined.  Fold in walnuts and/or chocolate chips.
  • Transfer the batter into the prepared pan.  Bake 55 to 60 minutes (about 25 minutes for muffins) or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.

  • Let cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then turn onto a wire rack and cool completely.  Or not- I don’t blame you for wanting to sample it warm out of the oven…

Nutrition Facts – calculated using caloriecount.com, without chocolate chips, since I have no idea how many you could be adding…:)
Based on 12 Servings
Calories 148
Calories from Fat 65
Total Fat 7.2g
Saturated Fat 0.9g
Trans Fat 0.0g
Cholesterol 16mg
Sodium 166mg
Total Carbohydrates 20.0g
Dietary Fiber 2.1g
Sugars 11.2g
Protein 3.1g
Vitamin A 1% Vitamin C 4%
Calcium 3% Iron 6%

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